How did you start in theatre?
I went to drama school and then worked as an actor in theatre and film for a few years before heading to university to study for my bachelor’s, master’s and PhD degrees. Since 2018, I have worked at the University of Greenwich, where I teach on the BA Drama programme and research how young people engage with theatres in the subsidised sector.
What is the best piece of advice you have for students today?
Be kind to yourself and others. Be proactive and create your own opportunities.
What would you change about UK training?
I would like to see widespread re-evaluations of existing practices to create better provisions to support opportunities for those from under-represented backgrounds. Sarah Frankcom is doing excellent work to address this at LAMDA, so hopefully this will act as a catalyst for others to consider how their systems disadvantage many young people with aspirations in the arts.
What is the best part of your job?
Seeing students progress into innovative and creative industry leaders of the future.
And your least favourite?
Meetings that could be emails.
Who are the practitioners you admire the most/who should students look up to?
Chris Sonnex, whose work with the Royal Court and as artistic director of the Bunker Theatre, has epitomised inclusive programming and opportunities for all. Sarah Frankcom, who is re-imagining drama training in a radical way, and challenging the inequalities that exist in the industry. Tobi Kyeremateng, whose Black Ticket Project has transformed access for young black people in London.
What is the one skill every successful theatre professional should have?
An ability to listen.
Why study drama at university?
A drama degree is a versatile qualification. Students learn a range of skills that can improve their confidence, self-discipline and ability to work in a team. The combination of theory and practice equips students with critical and analytical thinking tools.
Nicholas Holden was talking to John Byrne